Welcome to our site!

Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

  • Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

health hazard?

Status
Not open for further replies.

unclejed613

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
the only tangible "advantage" to using lead free solder, is that components like SMT chips grow tin whiskers, which then cause shorts across the pins, damaging the chip. so consumer products break down sooner, and the manufacturer sells a new product to replace the old one... meanwhile, the idiotic politicians enjoy the benefits of increased tax revenue on each sale...

NASA and the military forbid the use of RoHS solder and components, as well as any other services where electronics affect "safety of life". silver solder is used a lot as well as lead solder, but the use of RoHS solder and components are a no-no. one NASA study of RoHS components found tin whisker growth rates as high as 9mm per year!!!!
 

Mr RB

Well-Known Member
Wow thanks for that info!

One thing I have seen forst hand is that the parts themselves don't last as long. I have resistors from the 1970's with lead coated steel legs that are perfect. Then I have resistors from 2006 with lead-free solder coated steel legs (or some just have tinplated legs!) and pulling them from a part drawer there are obvious rust marks under the tin coating where the steel legs are failing.

So not only do you need to worry about whisker growth but the steel legs of components are actually corroding and rusting away inside the ROHS solder joints in your project.

I'm a bit ticked off that the military will be allowed to make eelectronics with high reliability but the rest of society will be forced by law to tolerate crap electronics that dies and fails as we are given no choice in the matter. A bit like removing the lead lubricant from auto fuel, and now we all have engines that fail 3 times sooner and unleaded gas that goes bad after a week in the car.
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Unfortunately, the EU established the RoHS laws before it was known that the mental retardation of children whose parents (aka "caregivers") used TV as a babysitter was due to program content, not lead content of the components.

Once a law, forever a law.

John
 

tvtech

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
the only tangible "advantage" to using lead free solder, is that components like SMT chips grow tin whiskers, which then cause shorts across the pins, damaging the chip. so consumer products break down sooner, and the manufacturer sells a new product to replace the old one... meanwhile, the idiotic politicians enjoy the benefits of increased tax revenue on each sale...

NASA and the military forbid the use of RoHS solder and components, as well as any other services where electronics affect "safety of life". silver solder is used a lot as well as lead solder, but the use of RoHS solder and components are a no-no. one NASA study of RoHS components found tin whisker growth rates as high as 9mm per year!!!!

Hi unclejed613

I learned lot's too. Thank You for sharing.

ROHS sucks IMHO. Only stupid politicians score points with this nonsense :mad: Us consumers don't count :mad:

Regards,
tvtech
 
Last edited:

en2oh

Member
Not even sure where to start on this. The hazards of lead poisoning are not debatable. Lead does NOT need to be a salt in order to be absorbed. The most common modes of occupational exposure are by ingestion of lead dust or vapor from lead melts. The issues associated with RoHS are a separate debate but an otherwise bright group of people do not show at their best when they make statements about health and safety related to something they apparently know little about.

The statements being made here are not very different than those made during the industrial revolutions reform that eventually lead to breathable air in London England and clear sky's in Los Angeles. Cleaning up industry always costs money. I don't think that any of these changes would have occurred simply based on the good will of industry.

I hope the debate doesn't turn toward hydro fracturing in the Oil and Gas Industry. :)

Nitrous
 
Last edited:

en2oh

Member
There are no doubts about risk of lead toxicity. The debate is around how best to deal with it. RoHS is as much a political initiative as it is based on science. That said, the theme of RoHS seems to be about limiting toxic materials from the work place and so, from the environment. As is usually the case in forced change, things likely legislate over rather than under or even to the line.

The idea that because there are water services in older communities and so somehow is a reflection on the lack of seriousness of this problem is a silly one. There are no new water services being put in that are lead based, in any developed world country. A similar argument would be to suggest that if RoHS was really serious ( and the problem so immediate and severe), all lead based electronics should be confiscated and disposed of as hazardous waste. Again, that would be a silly argument to make.

When I solder, I don't use a smoke extractor, even though I should. If I had youngsters around, I would make the effort. I now purchase silver solder (not what I knew as silver solder from the sixties and seventies but a low temp electronic lead-free alternative to good ol' 60/40.)

Change is often a gradual thing, even when things like RoHS seem to be so dramatic.

The efforts to reduce toxic waste become that much more important, as populations grow along with consumerism. It's time has come.

Nitrous
 

tvtech

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Not even sure where to start on this. The hazards of lead poisoning are not debatable. Lead does NOT need to be a salt in order to be absorbed. The most common modes of occupational exposure are by ingestion of lead dust or vapor from lead melts. The issues associated with RoHS are a separate debate but an otherwise bright group of people do not show at their best when they make statements about health and safety related to something they apparently know little about.

The statements being made here are not very different than those made during the industrial revolutions reform that eventually lead to breathable air in London England and clear sky's in Los Angeles. Cleaning up industry always costs money. I don't think that any of these changes would have occurred simply based on the good will of industry.

I hope the debate doesn't turn toward hydro fracturing in the Oil and Gas Industry. :)

Nitrous

I have Repped you big time....take care and speak sense with every post.....like this one :D

Regards,
tvtech
 

JMW

Member
I agree with most of the comments on lead. (Lead Mercury the new asbestos). As I only have two hands, soldering iron in one, circuit board in the other, guess what held the solder? As for the lead in water pipes, I read somewhere (don't remember) that when they started adding fluorine it caused the lead to leach out faster. Again if you flushed the toilets several times and took a long shower after returning from vacation, there was little or no problem. One more example zero tolerance run amok. Who else made slippery dimes and turned "pennies into dimes" with mercury?
 

en2oh

Member
Lead is a largely avoidable substance. Lead levels, as well as mercury levels are easily measured in people with characteristic symptoms of heavy metal poisoning or where there has been a likely exposure.

When I was in grad school, my PhD advisor chastised us for not wanting to work in an open lab with benzene. His argument was simple: "I used lots of solvent benzene over the years and I'm still here". It took a long time, and a degree in medicine to understand that all things are not equally harmful to all people. Genetics plays a big role bit not in heavy metal toxicity. Mercury causes irreversible neurological damage to EVERYONE that is chronically exposed to sub lethal quantities or to those few who are affected by a critical acute poisoning.

I agree that spending money labeling every lead containing product in California as a potential carcinogen is "over the top". But hey, we live in a society where a drug is legally available which, when used exactly as the manufacturer intends, will ultimately kill 50% of its users. That is a financially motivated and deliberate political "oversight".

Society changes behavior in subtle ways. People quit smoking, not out of fear but by social pressure. Who wants to stand outside in the rain, a minimum of 21 meters from any entrance or exit, with a bunch of people you likely have little or nothing in common with?

Anyway back to the more interesting business of technology! :)

Nitrous

EDIT: that drug, btw is nicotine and the delivery system is smoke :)
 
Last edited:

Mr RB

Well-Known Member
en2oh said:
Not even sure where to start on this. The hazards of lead poisoning are not debatable. Lead does NOT need to be a salt in order to be absorbed. The most common modes of occupational exposure are by ingestion of lead dust or vapor from lead melts. The issues associated with RoHS are a separate debate but an otherwise bright group of people do not show at their best when they make statements about health and safety related to something they apparently know little about.
...

Maybe you should not have started, unless you knew what you were talking about. Lead poisoning from soldering etc that we do is VERY debatable.

Here is a simple point;
-------
https://diamondenv.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/lead-exposure-during-soldering/

"The reason for this change (ROHS) was to reduce the discharge of lead into the environment, particularly during the disposal of electronic components. However there are still some applications where lead based solders are permitted.

Where lead containing solders are used, the risk from lead is usually very low. This may seem strange given the high percentage of the metal in the solder. However, soldering is usually carried out at a temperature of around 380 C and significant lead fume is only evolved at temperatures above 450 C. So exposure by inhalation is normally insignificant. This is recognised in the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) supporting the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW). Table 2 in the ACoP (reproduced below) lists processes which are not liable to result in significant exposure to lead. This list includes “Low-temperature melting of lead (below 500°C)” during soldering."

"Soldering can produce “dross” – fine particles of solder. Inhalation is likely to occur occur if the dust is disturbed and it may be accidentally ingested if the fingers and hands become contaminated. So its important that appropriate precautions are taken to minimise these risks. However, with well managed soldering processes lead exposure should be minimal.

Despite this a client of ours who carry out soldering with lead based solders (they undertake a process which is exempt from the restrictions imposed by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) had a visit from a Factory Inspector who insisted that they carry out air sampling and blood lead measurements. The management, who are very conscientious about their responsibilities regarding health and safety, pointed out the guidance in the ACoP, but despite this the Inspector was insistent.

The company asked us to undertake the sampling. I’m glad to say that, as expected, exposures were very low. In fact no lead was detected on any of the samples, meaning that the time weighted average concentrations were less than 2% of the lead exposure limit."

-----

Have you had lead tests en2oh? I have. My doctor also had a patient who worked in leadlighting (stained glass) where for 8 hours a day in a factory for many years he uses a LARGE soldering iron and thick leadtin solder sticks. He would have many hundreds (or thousands!) of times my exposure to lead soldering and had a lead test only weeks before me. His lead levels were *insignificant*.

You really need to get some facts before you start talking all high and mighty like you are "setting everyone straight on lead" with your "I don't even know where to start on this" hystrionics. :(
 

en2oh

Member
Mr RB:
My facts are solid. I've never had lead levels done on myself. I've ordered lead levels on children and adults. Some through occupational exposure, some through environmental exposure in lead painted homes. My comments were only intended to address two specific issues.

The first was the notion that lead is only toxic as a salt. That is nonsense. Plain and simple. It is nonsense from a chemists perspective and it is nonsense from a medical doctors perspective. Problems can be debated. Facts are either accepted or ignored. Your choice. RoHS is not a fact, except so far as the uncertainty of its cost benefits go AND, that it has been passed as legislation. Deal with it. Debate it, but don't use it to prop up statements made in other postings that claim knowledge in matters medical OR chemical. Lead is a known heavy metal toxin. It is irrelevent how many individual lead levels have been done on you or others. Statistics don't work that way. Conclusions drawn from these observations and anecdotes are misleading, unreliable and in some cases dangerous.

The second point relates to the use of personal "n of 1" stories that are meaningless in a population sense, to support arguments that relate to safety.

The human body absorbs heavy metals by a great many different means. The impact of lead through electronics on individuals and ultimately on society is complex. If you are in doubt about the value of reducing environmental exposures to lead, I don't really think that this "debate" is worth having. If I offended anyone by my comments, the intent was to remain factual, not to offend.

I've reread your post and am having trouble teasing out the pearls from the personality. Fortunately, I don't have any difficulty with start or finish points with this particular response. I trust that you don't find this response too "histrionic".

Your first quoted comment (I gather not your statement, but something you agree with) is actually telling. It summarizes the intent behind RoHS. Reduce environmental lead contamination.

I hope that this is clearer than my previous post.

Nitrous

Just for the record, was the last line of your post an ad hominum comment, or did I misread it somehow?
 

jpanhalt

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hi en2oh,

You criticize others here who have expressed the opinion that current RoHS and RoHS-like restrictions ("RoHS") go too far and have shown no quantitative results in attaining their purpose. You seem to be the one, however, who presents no data. Supposedly, your credentials speak for themselves and data are not needed. I don't agree. The adverse effects of RoHS are all around us. Specifically from the standpoint of electronics, there are the problems of solder failures, difficulty in production, added costs, and in a few cases, complete unavailability of RoHS compliant parts.

First, what is the health purpose of RoHS? How can its success be measured? No one here is going to debate that lead is a toxic metal. No one here will say that exposure shouldn't be reasonably limited. As you point out, other things in our environment, such as cigarette smoking, are more dangerous and cause more death and morbidity than lead ever did; yet, cigarette use is not nearly as restricted as lead. One of the driving forces on RoHS legislation was concern that exposure of children to excess lead causes mental retardation. Now that we have had some version of RoHS in the US for almost 2 generations, where are the data on mental retardation to support that premise?

Second, RoHS is or has become an almost purely politically motivated over-reach of government. That is what people, including myself, are objecting to in this thread. RoHS has created an almost paranoid reaction in the public. People are afraid of it. You stress that RoHS is a fact of life. Lead is a fact of life too. You cannot get away from it. However, RoHS can be changed through are legislative processes. The way to begin that process is to have open rational dialog. Governments have effectively said that any lead is bad. Where are the data? Is that really to protect us or to allow unlimited intrusion in our lives?


The first was the notion that lead is only toxic as a salt. That is nonsense. Plain and simple. It is nonsense from a chemists perspective and it is nonsense from a medical doctors perspective. Problems can be debated. Facts are either accepted or ignored. Your choice.

I don't recall anyone arguing that exposure to elemental lead in some forms is not dangerous. Moreover, I think everyone is aware that ingested lead is better absorbed in children than in adults.

Please explain from a chemist's perspective why the vastly lower absorption rate of metallic lead as compared to oxidized lead is nonsense. And from a medical perspective, please explain why a lead bullet in soft tissue (not next to a bone) does not affect blood lead levels at all. Should it be removed to prevent lead toxicity?

RoHS is not a fact, except so far as the uncertainty of its cost benefits go AND, that it has been passed as legislation. Deal with it. Debate it, but don't use it to prop up statements made in other postings that claim knowledge in matters medical OR chemical. (1) Lead is a known heavy metal toxin. It is irrelevent how many individual lead levels have been done on you or others.(2) Statistics don't work that way. (3)Conclusions drawn from these observations and anecdotes are misleading, unreliable and in some cases dangerous.

@1 We are all aware of that. The discussion is about cost-benefit.
@2 Just how do statistics work in your view? It is really a matter of science, not politics, to determine what levels of lead produce no discernible effects in humans. That science is justifiably based on multiple measurements of a large number of people who show no effects compared to people who show effects. Now that lead has been restricted in paint and gasoline for several decades, we have a good opportunity to compare the before and after pictures. Statistics should clearly play a part in that analysis.
@3 Not sure what you mean by conclusions based on observations being misleading and unreliable. Of course, one must take care in making conclusions from any experimental observation. What is your better alternative?

The rest of your comments can be subjected to similar dissection, but I don't think that would change your perspective. I do think that your claims and assertions need to be supported by data. Most important, I don't think discussion of RoHS as an intrusive political ploy is silly. Isn't that the same characterization applied advocates who lack data to anyone who questions other hot topic items?

John
 
Last edited:

en2oh

Member
If I've learned one important point in over twenty five years of education, it's when I'm clearly outmatched in an intellectual debate.
Nitrous
 

en2oh

Member
Just to focus my point a little more clearly. I took exception with a statement by Sceadwian which you apparently agreed with.

SCEADWIAN QUOTE:

"Pure paranoia. At least coming from the perspective of a former plater. Would you believe that the ROHS standards require that each 'homogenous' portion of a component be ROHS compliant? This mean that while the TOTAL chromium content for a part has to be bellow a certain threshold that even a coating (such as zinc with a dichromate passivization) also has to be bellow that threshold even though the dichromate layer is only 1/100,000th of an inch of the surface of the entire mass of the part.

The chromium limits in bottled drinking water are higher when looking at the total mass of the samples. This kind of things is causing billions of dollars in harm to the industrial sector, and albeit only very slightly encouraging environmental consciousness.

Lead itself is NOT a hazard, it is only a hazard when it becomes ionic (IE disolved in a liquid) and ingested. As a bulk metal it's a bad thing because mild acids will dissolve it over time and introduce it into the ground water supply. As a necklace, you'd be safe wearing a pendant made out of solid lead if you so chose."

He even goes on to say that removal from the environment is "...probably a good thing" but the impact of the hobbiest (in the problem or solution) is insignificant.

I'm not sufficiently knowledgable in the relative cost benefits of RoHS legislation to intelligently debate it. You appear to be confident in your knowledge in this regard. For all I know, you were asked to participate in this initiative (the formulation of the industrial regulations around lead exposure mitigation). Perhaps not.

So, your choice to focus on RoHS rather than the two distinct points in the thread that I took exception with is not my issue. It's yours.

As for your suggestion that my points be accepted at face value, simply based on my training, I never suggested that for a moment. I am unclear whether you seriously need data to establish the fact that 1) lead is a toxin, even if not in an ionic state or (worse still), 2) that n of 1 anecdotes are of no statistical value. If either of these two points need further "data" to convince you, I'll have to leave that to you to sort out on your own. You may be quite correct in your opinions in this regard. You may not be.

What YOUR levels of lead are is simply irrelevant (in the context of this thread) to anyone but you and those who may otherwise care. They can't form the basis for policy that involves millions upon millions of lives.

Thanks
Nitrous
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.

Latest threads

EE World Online Articles

Loading
Top